Domino’s goes viral $3 at a time

June 4, 2024

Last month, Domino’s delivered a supreme serving of viral marketing. The company launched a new promotion: customers who tip their delivery driver will get a $3 coupon as a thank you – a “you tip, we tip” campaign that engaged customers, investors, and national press.

Then, three days later, Domino’s released its quarterly report showing unexpected sales growth…and investors ate it up, sending its stock through the roof as part of a 21% gain since the start of the year.

It’s easy to look at Domino’s clever ads, influencer relationships, and its oft-praised app technology as the keys to its success. However, these are just the tactics behind a business strategy that consistently makes customers, investors and employees all part of the company’s growth. For example, it’s no coincidence that the $3 tipping policy came out just days before the quarterly report, as inflation continues to hurt consumers and tipping fatigue grows.

Domino’s has always been a company of customer service innovation combined with savvy public relations. It changed the food delivery landscape with the “30 minutes or it’s free” guarantee in the 1970s. Fifteen years ago, the company publicly confessed that its pizza wasn’t very good – and that it was changing its half-century old recipe to meet customer expectations. And during labor shortages in 2022, Domino’s connected with customers, alleviated delivery delays and addressed growing food delivery service charges across the industry by giving customers who picked up their pizza a $3 coupon.

Here are three PR lessons to learn from Domino’s success:

Focus on long-term strategy, not short-term virality. Domino’s has consistently aligned every part of its operations – from tips and coupons to its recipe and app – to its brand of affordable pizza for pickup or delivery. It delivers what the customer wants when the customer wants it for the price the customer can pay and does so in ways that create high value. The laser-like focus on customers is why it can count on positive press over and over again with every new move that it makes.

Create a perfect storm with good timing. In 2022, the first $3 “tip” coupon took pressure off thinly stretched delivery workers. The expansion of this strategy two years later gives price-conscious customers an incentive to keep buying when inflation and tipping fatigue are huge challenges. And by announcing the $3 “tip” campaign right before earnings, Domino’s prepped investors for its positive report days later.

Own your lane. In 2009, Domino’s reconstructed its recipe from scratch after a consumer survey ranked the chain’s pizza in last place in terms of taste. The “Pizza Turnaround” wasn’t a sudden rebrand to compete with Neapolitan-style, premium pizza restaurants, nor was it a spin campaign telling customers they were wrong.  Domino’s fixed the crisis by addressing the issue head-on only with the people in its target audience.

Look, investors probably don’t think about Domino’s when seeking out the best pizza. But they clearly believe that Domino’s is a great pizza company. And it’s no wonder – it’s a brand that has embraced what it is and who it serves and delivers great results for stakeholders. And then it makes sure everyone knows about it.

This piece was originally published by Dustin Siggins at PR Daily.

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